Crystal-Crusted Fan Gear: It’s Time To Rethink “Women’s” NBA And NFL Apparel
3:36 pm, June 14th | by Amy Tennery
If you’re an Oklahoma City Thunder fan, you’re probably wearing some piece of Thunder-themed gear during every waking hour of every day right now (and probably some of the non-waking hours, too). And, if you’re one of those bandwagon
turds fans, chances are you’re in the market for some gear. If you’re a guy, you’re shopping for a t-shirt or a hat.
If you’re a woman, however, your options are little, well, “different.”
Marked down to $274.99 from $294.99, these 6-inch, crystal-encrusted high-heels are a “bargain,” right? You can’t afford not to buy them!
I kid, of course. And we, as always, can buy and wear whatever the heck they feel like, as far as I’m concerned. But what the HerStar NBC-Licensed Oklahoma City Thunder Limited Edition Crystal Pumps (full name) represent is something truly bizarre: The hyper-cuteification of sports apparel. And the madness needs to stop.
Of course, there’s an element of “asking for it” behind this sentiment. I’m not a curmudgeon. I am not trying to kill anyone’s pink-coated fun. And there are, believe it or not, many girly accessories in everyday life that I seek out with relish. But it’s the message behind this widespread marketing is the problem. The options for what women fans “should” be wearing is narrowing at a rapid pace: It needs to be tight and it needs to be cute. And this is some crap.
The two biggest offenders in this regard are the NFL and the NBA. This week, Forbes ran a story titled “NBA Courting Female Fans With High Heels,” and touted the aforementioned bedazzled clickclackers. “Courting us” (cute) with overpriced, uncomfortable, glittery high heels? My thoughts immediately turned to a recent NBA game I attended. I imagined trying to climb the stadium stairs (without falling over) in six-inch heels. I guffawed.
As the article explained, the shoes’ designer, Holly Joffrion, actually designed the pair after growing “frustrated when nothing came of her online search for a pair of sport high heels to wear to an Orlando Magic game she was attending.” Hey, more power to her. And as the article notes, her shoe line (she has versions for all 30 teams) is a more sophisticated take on the usual “shrink it and pink it” approach to women’s apparel.
But what of the other women’s-only offerings? Last I checked, the Celtics colors were not pink and white. And one need only look at the WNBA’s clothing shop to see how disingenuous the men’s efforts are. Nowhere are there “booty shorts.” No “pinked up” tees for teams that have no pink whatsoever in their logos. (At least that I could find.) When you compare and contrast these collections, something very obvious emerges: The men are “courting” a demographic they know nothing about with overpriced schlock.
Your eyes, they’re rolling. You’re imagining Andrea Dworkin in a Clay Matthews jersey. Just hear me out.
Let’s turn to the NFL.
In 2010, the New York Times heralded a change in NFL women’s apparel: The league was getting more creative in its women’s offerings, with stylish cuts winning out over pink this and fuchsia that. This, supposedly, was some kind of concession — a positive thing for women. Finally we have options! Again, the “shrink it and pink it” mantra was belittled, and Mark Waller, the chief marketing officer with the NFL, noted that a man’s football jersey “kind of makes them [women] look like a sack of potatoes.”
A sack of potatoes. Guess what Waller? Dudes kind of look like sacks of potatoes when they wear football jerseys too. That’s because they’re wearing football jerseys. That anyone — man or woman — would fret over his or her appearance in a football jersey is patently stupid.
And sure, the NFL designs have shown some fashion-forward flair. But the message is clear: When you’re watching the big game, men should be men — and women should be cute. And, preferably, wear a NFL-themed garter belt, while they’re at it. Explain how I’m supposed to sit on a barstool with that on for 3 hours.
Take, for instance, this 2010 commercial:
Women trading in the comfortable jerseys for the “sexy” option. A shirt with cutout sleeves.
These pieces individually? Fine. But with this purported “diversity” of options, I’m seeing very little diversity at all. And it’s eroding a cherished tradition: Putting on a jersey, looking like a “sack of potatoes,” and not worrying about whether you look cute.